Page 44 - MetalForming March 2016
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Real-Time Welding Data
 The Esab WeldCloud
Making its debut at the Esab FABTECH booth was the new Weld- Cloud online welding-data manage- ment system. It combines 3G mobile- communications technology with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and Ethernet to allow users to alleviate firewall and connectivity issues. Running on a com- pany’s intranet cloud, WeldCloud is a secure, locked-down system that ensures that data remains totally con- fidential.
Other features, described by global product manager Roul Kierkels, include:
• Traceability. The platform can trace back to welds that already have been created, and provides the details on how and when they were created. Details include welder qualifications and the type of filler metal and shield- ing gas used.
• Two-way communications. “The platform can actually push settings to machines,” says Kierkels, “such as a new weld-parameter combination, and the machines can send data back. This allows shops to create a centralized knowledge base and standardize pro- cedures. And it helps companies deal with a shortage of skilled welders and welding engineers.”
• Alert management. WeldCloud automatically pushes out alerts when machines have issues, to trigger actions by the quality and maintenance teams. Users also can set parameter limits and alert engineers and technicians when faults occur, automating much of the quality-control process. “This becomes important as robots begin to take on more welding,” Kierkels says, “which means fabricators won’t necessarily have eyes on all of their welds.”
• Simple integration, with new or existing Esab machines. “Installation and start-up is very intuitive,” Kierkels notes. “The system is plug-and-play, and since it uses open-source software, it’s easily customized.”
• Complete documentation of filler metals, consumables and operator qualifications for individual projects. At FABTECH, Kierkels showed how
Esab introduced its WeldCloud online welding-data management system at FABTECH, combining 3G mobile-communications technology with Wi-Fi and Ethernet to allow users to alleviate firewall and connectivity issues. The system runs on a company’s intranet cloud, and since it uses open-source software, it’s easily customized.
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easy it was to add a bar-code scanner to the system, as an example of how a weld shop can document all of the equipment and personnel used to complete a project.
• Monitor and act upon productivi- ty reports.
• Share and analyze data by teams across multiple data-collection sites.
WeldCloud works with Esab’s Aris- to Mig 4000i Pulse semiautomatic, Aristo Mig 5000iR robotic and LAF/TAF submerged-arc-welding systems. Users can purchase the systems WeldCloud- ready, or Esab can retrofit most exist- ing systems with a communication module. And, much more than data- recording systems, WeldCloud inte- grateswithERP,MRPandothershop- management software packages. Here, adds Esab’s global director of strategy Anders Lindh, is where a welding data- management system can move fabri- cators toward an Internet of Things (IoT) environment.
“Collecting and analyzing welding data has been proven to provide numerous benefits to weld shops,” says Lindh. “Now we expect to see companies combine their welding data with other strings of data ( WeldCloud works within the ThingWorx IoT plat- form, for example) and automate big- data analytics.”
CheckPoint from Lincoln Electric
Lincoln Electric’s cloud-based pro- duction-monitoring network, Check- Point, lets users obtain performance information on their welders and weld- ing operations located in single or mul- tiple locations from any computer or mobile device via Wi-Fi, without the need for specialized software or IT hardware. Users can view the live status of each welder as it sends status updates to CheckPoint during and after each weld. It also employs a propri- etary calculation to determine when each welding system will run out of consumable wire, and offers other weld details such as wire-feed speed, voltage and more. Users can search welds via operator ID, consumable ID and part serial number, and also choose tailored reports and analyses.
Welding is an ideal production process for a production-monitoring network of this type, according to Joe Daniel, software development manag- er at Lincoln Electric.
“In a typical production environ- ment you may have 10, 20 or 200 weld- ing systems,” he explains. “It is difficult to know if each system is producing as expected, or if any operators are having downtime issues. That is some- what due to the nature of welding. Screens and curtains often enclose

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